The enigma that is the Labour Party and its leadership debate is something I’ve always avoided and steered clear from writing about. Whilst I have a sense of the factors which come together to fuel this frustration in the left-wing party, I’m not a member of the Labour Party, nor do I have that inside knowledge about how the party operates. With that in mind, I feel as though I am an observer, and since I won’t be voting in the leadership election, I’m not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the two candidates. However, that being said, I do have a stance and that is what I’ve decided to talk about today. I stand with Corbyn, and I think he should remain as leader of the Labour Party.
For a long time, I was torn between the two parties. Labour was the party of inequality, but were forced to borrow and overspend. The Tories had strong economic principles, but I found their policies on disability to be absolutely appalling. Uncertain about Ed Miliband being a potential leader, I voted Conservative last year. However, I soon realised my mistake. Books by Owen Jones and my general frustration with the government’s running of things brought out my left-wing stance.
It wasn’t long before I started to see it: the rise of left-wing attitudes and an anti-establishment rhetoric. Unions burst back to life when Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP launched his new plans for junior doctors, the vote for Brexit was in response to big corporations influencing democracy and the planned changes to Personal Independence Payments angered most of the general public.
If it isn’t because Tory policies have affected you in some way, then most people in society desire an honest politician with integrity. Prime Minister’s Questions has descended into theatre, with the Conservatives often resorting to ad hominem attacks rather than answering the questions from the opposition. So, when Jeremy Corbyn suggested a new style of PMQs, he certainly got my respect, and probably appealed to a lot of people annoyed with the personal put-downs which dominate today’s politics.
The treatment of Jeremy Corbyn by the media and the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) shows so much about the state of both. The PLP still has Blairism lingering around, and of course, with right-wing millionaires controlling the newspapers, they’ll find any opportunity to tear apart a man with radical socialist principles. In both cases, Jeremy Corbyn poses an almost existential threat to them – be it the silencing of Blairite views under his leadership, or taxes on the rich as part of a redistribution of wealth.
One of the words which the Conservatives and the media both continued to use was ‘unelectable’. They made that comment at a time when left-wing politics didn’t appeal to the majority, and Labour still had aspects of its identity to address. But, as I’ve said, a socialist leader has emerged at a time where anti-establishment rhetoric is rising. Why couldn’t he be Prime Minister?
The argument to this would be to say that Corbyn is a respectable politician and a good man, but he is not a good leader. There are certain things which have happened under Corbyn’s leadership which is respectable, such as the boost in membership figures. However, for this point, I thought I would turn to fellow candidate, Owen Smith.
In all honesty, my knowledge of ‘famous’ Labour politicians is quite limited, and I think I wouldn’t be alone when I say that I hadn’t heard of Smith until this debate. Whilst his skills as leader may be better, I can only see him as being a continuation of a Labour party which is out of touch with working class people. It’ll be more of the same, in my opinion. People want change, and that’s in terms of both politics and the direction which the party is taking. Would Labour members rather have a leader which shifts the political debate, or continues the status quo of the party?
If anything, this debate has forced Corbyn to redefine his policies. Granted, his stance against Tory austerity is what most people know him for, but Labour supporters need the specifics. Now, as he talks about a redistribution of wealth, the public ownership of railways and more done for our National Health Service, I think Jeremy Corbyn is the closest personal representation of the anti-establishment and equalist politics which are apparent in today’s society.